Change is in the air seasonally, politically, academically and in business it’s all about to change. In fact nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again with pure joy in the uprooting. This is where the change story starts –when it all falls down. It’s not drastic. Instead it is a powerful place of discovery and opportunity.
But we think we have to sell this ‘change’ going into detail; qualifying and verifying each element or no one will believe in it. Sell ourselves as the ultimate fixer. If you’ve got an answer for everything it should be alright. Right? But if all the structures are shifting or crumbling as it were, how can we possibly know the answer to anything? If the board is wiped clean what is there to fix?
Imagine yourself in the place of the listener – they become our companion on this adventure—the person you want to join with you in this quest for support. Become the Listener instead of the Teller.
What are they thinking? Envision the obstacles and resistances to the change present for your team or audience? Whenever there is change –even a change for good there is always something lost or replaced as well as something gained. The biggest obstacle to any change is FEAR. We are afraid to let go, to lose –even if we gain, there is the comfort of the familiar. Think of crossing the threshold from childhood to adulthood –yes the freedom of choice, the Independence but also a loss of innocence, responsibility. Even with a new job lots of perks but we loss certain routines and relationships. Things are just not the same. And they are not going to be. They are going to be different.
To effectively manage change we need to listen. Really listen to the stories that are being told as well as what’s not being said.
The water-cooler conversations and attitudes expressed in everyday conversation. What are the beliefs about the past people are still clinging to? How will this effect the action of moving forward. Think through the mind-set changes that challenge them. Do they believe it will be easy or hard to make the transition? Imagine the best- and worst-case scenario and really go over the top in both directions. Then imagine what is likely to really happen. By exploring the extremes to the ridiculous you can inject humor and unmask the unreasonable perceptions putting them into perspective.
How do they feel? Imagine all the emotions this change evokes. If you are looking to How are the mindset challenges affecting their mood? What motivates or demotivates them? When do they feel most excited and inspired? What is their biggest fear? Fear is a key factor in all change. We always fear it event when it is good.
Consider the tension in the action steps the distance from here to there. How big are those steps? Each one is a threshold in and of itself.
What is the specific action they will be required to do? Imaging walking through the action your vision will require them to take. Will they support it or resist? Will it be easy or a slog? How will it affect routine and relationships? What will be gained; what will be lost or replaced?
Incorporate these key factors in the language of your communication “ I think this idea is…” “I imagine it will be easy or hard because…” “The idea makes me feel…” “The change inspires me because…” “This will require new actions, such as…” “It makes me want to / not to do…”
If you acknowledge these key factors you position your listeners as team players central to your change plan acknowledging their fears and yours. Being realistic about the sacrifices as well as the rewards creates the trust you can build on when you need their cooperation and assistance.
Finally, share your experience with major change. Find moments in your life to help you example that you understand exactly what your change travelers are going through. This also gives you credibility as someone who is part of the process has been their and has the specialist experiential knowledge to lead them through.